Axel C. Hüntelmann

Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Charite University Medicine Berlin, Institute for History of Medicine


Axel C. Hüntelmann is Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Institute for the History of Medicine at the Charité Medical School in Berlin, where he is currently part of a project on brain research at Kaiser-Wilhelm-Institutes between 1939 and 1945, and furthermore part of a project on the history of the Federal Health Office in West Germany. Previously, he has worked and published on the German Imperial Health Office (PhD 2007) and other European public health institutions between 1850 and 1950; scientific infrastructures; the history of laboratory animals; the production, clinical testing, marketing, and regulation of pharmaceuticals in Germany and France; and he has written a biography on the immunologist Paul Ehrlich (2011). He trained in accounting as well as history and is currently finishing a book on accounting and bookkeeping in medicine (1730–1930). Recently, he has co-edited a volume on Animals and epidemics in historical context (Böhlau, 2023/2024).



"Thinking Holistically. Human-Animal Relationship and the Rising Concept of One Health Since the 1970s"

After the outbreak of zoonoses since the 2000s, life scientists from various disciplines and countries joined forces and conceived a concerted collaboration that became known as “One Health”. One Health is defined as “the collaborative efforts of multiple disciplines working locally, nationally, and globally, to attain optimal health for people, animals and our environment” – this definition contains all elements of the concept. The concept of One Health is somehow older than the early 2000s, when the first working groups gathered together. On the other hand, it is too far if we assume that One Health had already existed in the early bacteriological laboratories – see for instance the entanglement and interrelation in the discussions around 1900 about human and bovine tuberculosis – where the pathogens of epizootics and epidemics had been investigated in the same way. One Health means more and includes also epidemiological and environmental aspects. For various reasons, which I will elaborate in my paper, I will follow the origins of One Health back to the 1980s and start with discussions and research about HIV, BSE and Creutzfeld-Jacob and further zoonoses that threatened public health since the 2000s. I will follow up the main strains of discussion, how interdisciplinary – between veterinarians and life scientists, molecular biologists and environmental scientists – and international collaborations evolved and institutionalized and how by these ‘co-evolution’ practices and discourses changed – leading to a holistic concept of One Health.